JOHANNESBURG // South Africa's ruling African National Congress rejected an appeal from political rebel Julius Malema, cementing his expulsion from the party and President Jacob Zuma's re-election prospects for 2014.
Mr Malema has yet to comment on the decision, but a recording on his cell phone's voicemail told his supporters: "Never surrender, never retreat, victory is certain."
"At the end of everything else, we will not remember the words uttered by the enemies against us but will remember the silence of our friends during these difficult times," said the message, The Star newspaper reported.
Mr Malema, a vocal Zuma opponent and leader of the party's powerful youth wing, appears to have exhausted all his options after months of appeals since a disciplinary charge last year.
The African National Congress' disciplinary appeals committee said late on Tuesday that it had dismissed Mr Malema's latest petition, confirming a decision to expel him from the party.
Two of Mr Malema's allies in the ANC Youth League also lost similar appeals, but were suspended from the party, not expelled.
The African National Congress said in a separate statement it had been a "difficult and painful decision" to subject Mr Malema to discipline.
Despite the seemingly harsh punishment, the party appeared to leave the open the possibility of his eventual return.
"Many of those who have been subjected to the same process and sanction have in turn learnt from their mistakes and have become better members," the ANC said.
"We believe the same is possible for ... Julius Malema."
Mr Malema, one of the best orators in the ANC, had won wide popularity among poor South African youth with his calls for nationalisation of mines and seizure of white-owned land.
He was suspended from the ANC last year for sowing division in the party, but was allowed to stay in his post pending the outcome of his appeals.
* Reuters with additional reporting by Agence France-Presse